As we begin to turn our attention towards a poor infant born homeless in a manger, the situation in newly-formed South Sudan has taken a turn for the worse.
Reports are sketchy as to what, exactly, is going on, but a few things are clear. Hundreds of people have been killed across the country, in clashes across the country, including in the major cities of Bor and Juba, and an attack on the UN compound.
Anglican Communion News Service has this item including reports from clergy in South Sudan.
While the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, describes the violence as a coup attempt, linked to the former vice-president, the VP himself denies this. Other (mainly Western) news sources have attributed the fighting to ethnic tensions between the Dinka–the majority ethnic group to which the president belongs, and the Nuer–a significant minority group to which the former vice-president belongs.
However, both the South Sudanese government and the local church leaders insist that this is a political conflict that cannot, and should not, be reduced to ethnic warfare.
Since the beginning of the week, the Anglican Church in Sudan has signed on to several statements urging peace, stability, and cooperation between ethnic groups. The signed clergy also offer their services as mediators. A second statement, written by Dinka and Nuer clergy leaders is here.
Both statements ask for international aid for people displaced by the violence, and for all South Sudanese to come together in peace.
Let’s all turn our prayers in that direction.